How to halve the cost but not the quality of your television post production

This post is by Clive Duncan a Senior Consultant at TrinityP3. As a Director and DOP he has an appreciation for the value of great creative and outstanding production values, while also recognising the importance of delivering value for money solutions to the advertiser.

There are two recent developments that can halve your post production costs. Well one of them is not that recent really, and has been around for at least 2 decades.

And that is the American practice for TVC production of getting the director to shoot to “Rushes” only. This means that after the shoot the director walks away from the production and the agency drives the edit and on-line process.

The second and more recent development in the world of post production is the miniaturisation of computers. Today a whole range of software to drive an HD edit and on-line suite can be stored on a Mac Pro and a Mac Pro can fit into a suitcase.

Shooting to Rushes

Lets face it, the Americans (or Hollywood) are the global leaders when it comes to film technical and production management innovation. If you need to know how they got to be and why they are, you should read David Puttnam’s book The Undeclared War, a treatise on the global dominance of the US film industry.

Cinema clap

When the post production process time line is analysed, there is always an allowance for the agency to view and inevitably change the director’s cut, so why bother with the director’s cut in the first place? The director’s cut really only gets seen by people viewing the director’s show reel. To be brutally frank, it is a waste of the advertiser’s time and money.

It makes sense to get an editor to roughly compile the TVC as per the director’s storyboard (the blueprint for the TVC that all parties have agreed to) and then let the agency go to town on it, to fine-tune the TVC and present to the client their vision.

The production house savings afforded by this simple change to the post production regime are considerable, reduced director and producer fees and no production house mark up on the post production component of the production. And as our American friends have shown this practice does not compromise the end product.

Smaller, faster, more powerful and cheaper

Moore’s Law is alive and well and heavily influencing production and post production technology. Two decades ago when “Flame” software was first made commercially available, it took a computer the size of a domestic refrigerator to drive it.

Now the whole range of software to drive a High Definition edit and on-line suite can fit into a suitcase, which means that the editor can come to the agency (or advertiser office) so no more schlepping to some inner suburban re-furbished (at great expense) art deco factory, with expensive off street client parking and all the other (too many to list) overheads that are built into the hourly rate of an editor and edit suite.

From experience, the cost of an editor to come to your office and do the job that he or she would once have done at a dedicated post production facility is about 25% of the production facility price.

Everybody is a winner if they embrace this new innovation, the advertiser pays less for the same amount and quality of post production and the agency gets to see more of (and utilise more cost effectively) their creative teams.

From anecdotal evidence (in Australia) it would seem that some of the editors offering themselves as “come to you” services are some of the industry’s more experienced and respected TVC editors and off-line exponents.

This is not uncharted territory, this is happening now, so if you are an innovative agency suggest it to your clients or if you are an innovative advertiser suggest it to your agency.

I predict that “come to your place” post production will be the norm in Australia in 10 years.

Opportunities through innovation

Television production, including the contribution of the director, the editor, sound engineers, designers, composers and others is a significant part of the creative process. But interestingly it is resistant to change and innovation in the process.

Technology has had a major impact on the television production process, both in providing a more expansive creative palette on which these people can work, but also in the delivery of greater efficiency and cost effectiveness. The focus from the creative people in the process is naturally the desire to explore the creative opportunities the technology provides. Ideally the producers (production company, post production and agency) should be focused on delivering the cost efficiencies.

“It’s easy to come up with new ideas; the hard part is letting go of what worked for you two years ago, but will soon be out of date.”

— Roger von Oech

But it seems that most of the innovations in the production category are driven by advertiser demands, with significant resistance from the production industry and the creative agencies as witnessed recently here.

Therefore for advertisers to enjoy the financial benefits of technology innovation in the production category, it requires them to drive and demand the change. Of course you will face resistance, but if the benefits are large enough, and for major advertisers it is, then it is a change worth making.

But is it worth it to you?

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About Clive Duncan

Clive has spent all his working life in the film and television industry and was invited to join the TrinityP3 team as their TV production senior consultant. Clive has the unique advantage of having hands on experience at almost every level of TVC production and understands the complex relationships required to produce creative and cost effective TVCs. View Clive's full bio here
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One Response to How to halve the cost but not the quality of your television post production

  1. Michael lee says:

    I'm not sure I buy this Darren . I've never had a conversation with a director about rushes or footage. I've always had conversations about an idea. Which he or she is responsible for producing. Not a bunch of images that is handed over to the agency with the theory that the idea is in there somewhere. …..You sort it out.
    If we take away the responsibility of producing the idea from the director I would suggest that is very poor value for money.

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